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SPS COVID-19 Update - April 30, 2020

Dear Shrewsbury Families & Colleagues,

As we continue to make our way through this unprecedented time, I want to update you on issues related to the pandemic, both through this email message and this five-minute video message I recorded earlier today.

Our district staff are working very hard to provide support in new ways to our students during the school closure, and they deserve our appreciation more than ever.  Tomorrow, May 1, is both School Lunch Heroes Day honoring cafeteria workers and National School Principals Day, and next week is National Teacher Appreciation Week,  with Tuesday, May 5 being National Teacher Day and Wednesday, May 6 being National School Nurse Day.  We are so fortunate here in Shrewsbury to have incredible people working to make our children's lives better, so please take a few moments in the days ahead to recognize the dedication and skillful efforts of our outstanding educators, school nurses, support staff, and principals by sending messages of gratitude and support.  

Please read on for information regarding 1) last night's School Committee meeting; 2) a survey on remote learning; 3) SHS television students' remote news show; 4) the first ever SPS Virtual 5K this weekend; 5) information on the U.S. Census; and 6) an update on the construction of the new Beal School.

1) The administration provided another update to the community at last evening's School Committee meeting.  Additionally, due to our fiscal situation, the School Committee made the difficult decision to furlough approximately 100 positions in our school district, including Extended School Care staff, crossing guards, and door monitors.  The Committee voted to continue pay for all other educators, support staff, and administrators who are working remotely through the end of the school year, and voted to continue pay for cafeteria workers for at least the next pay period.  To view the meeting, click here, and to see the various documents and slide decks associated with the meeting, click here.

2) Each school principal sent a survey regarding our SPS Remote Learning program to families yesterday. We ask that parents and caretakers complete the survey by Sunday, May 3.  Your feedback will be valuable, and we will report out the results after they have been analyzed.

3) Our students continue to do wonderful things as they adjust to being away from school.  Click here to see the latest Educational Television Studio Channel 29 News program, which was written, produced, and filmed remotely by the students in Ms. Maggie Korab's television production class at SHS.  A great example of adapting under difficult circumstances so that the show could go on!

4) We invite you to participate in a first-of-its-kind community event: the SPS Rise Up Together Virtual 5K.  Everyone is invited to run, walk, or bike 5 kilometers or participate in 30 minutes of some kind of physical activity this weekend.  Click here for information and to sign up.  We hope you join us!

5) Please do your duty as a citizen and help our state and community by completing the 2020 United States Census.  It takes about 10 minutes to complete, and by doing so you help ensure that Massachusetts gets its fair share of critical federal funding for education and other needs.  Click here for the U.S. Census website.

6) Some people have asked whether the pandemic has caused any issues for the construction of the new Beal School.  I am pleased to report that construction remains on schedule despite some limited labor shortages due to COVID-19, especially since the favorable winter weather allowed for great progress, and we remain scheduled to open in the fall of 2021.  The project also remains under budget.  The school district has engaged a geographical information systems consultant to assist with the elementary attendance zone redistricting project, and that work is underway.  The Redistricting Committee plans to engage the community this coming fall with some options.  Click here for more information regarding the redistricting project.

Thank you for your continued support of our school district, especially under the difficult circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic.  I wish you and your families good health.

Respectfully,

Joe Sawyer
Superintendent of Schools